It was yet another shocking week for those who still cling to the belief that the arts make a difference. As if we did not already know from the way that things panned out during the pandemic and the recent announcements from Arts Council England, in the past few days the BBC have also made it abundantly clear that music and theatre and those kinds of things are annoyingly surplus to requirements. The baffling and utterly scandalous decision to disband the BBC Singers a year before their centenary, to put twenty people out of their jobs, and also to reduce their orchestral players by 20% is nothing short of vandalism, and that corporatespeak claptrap about reinvesting the money in something more ‘agile’ is just that – claptrap. Apparently there was another big thing happening at the BBC last week, so at least those in charge will know what it is to have a fight on their hands.

I am one of the innumerable composers who have had their works either performed or recorded by the none-more-agile BBC Singers, and I cannot see how the redistribution of the funding that currently goes to that outstanding group is going to be better used elsewhere. Why is it that excellence in sport and science and (deep sigh) cyber is celebrated in the country, but in the arts it is (another deep sigh) elitist? I do not know of a single musician who wants to keep people away from what they do – instead they are desperate to invite people in.

Anyway, after a long pause to wonder what on earth it was all for I continued to rage against the dying of the light and did a couple of stints of work on the symphony last week, sorting out various bits of bowing and expression for the strings in the second movement (or, to be more precise, the second section of the first movement), and felt that I had made a decent step forwards by the end of it. There was also a little arranging for a funeral that hopefully is still some years away, and a bit of a bask in the gentle afterglow of the Occam Singers’ concert, From The Bavarian Highlands still whistling around my head.

Elgar is still very much in my thoughts on the Parly Choir front as well, as we spent Saturday with around two hundred singers preparing for our concert in Rome next month. On Friday morning I had passed a couple of hours with pencil and paper, trying to crack one of the codes that Elgar had hidden in there and, after much crossing out and scribbling, eventually came up with a solution that I think worked rather well, so that was a particularly good patch of endeavour.

The week ahead looks to be fairly quiet, as there are a couple of extra things in the diary but nothing too onerous, so my intention is to continue with the work on the symphony, probably sticking to what I am doing now, working on each instrumental section individually. Part of this is due to necessity, for I am working on my laptop which makes it difficult to get all the instruments onto the screen at once in a way which is at all workable, but mainly it helps me to keep my thoughts in a single place, which enables me to be consistent in terms of how I am applying various markings to the instruments. I have been to innumerable dark places as a composer over the past three years, and while I sometimes find that it can be easier to assume that any point to it all is fading away, I do always end up deciding that the best thing to do is simply to keep going.